The founding myth Why Christian nationalism is un-American

Andrew L Seidel

Book - 2019

Is America one nation under God? Christian nationalists assert that the US was founded on Judeo-Christian principles -- but is this true? Andrew L. Seidel, an attorney at the Freedom from Religion Foundation, answers this persistent question once and for all, comparing the Ten Commandments to the Constitution and contrasting biblical doctrine with America's founding philosophy. This persuasively argued and fascinating book proves that Christian nationalism is, in fact, un-American. --

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New York : Sterling [2019]
Main Author
Andrew L Seidel (author)
Physical Description
xi, 338 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 299-331) and index.
  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Introduction: Prelude to an Argument
  • Usage Note
  • Part I. The Founders, Independence, and the Colonies
  • 1. Interesting and irrelevant, the Religion of the Founders
  • 2. "Religion and Morality": Religion for the Masses, Reason for the Founders
  • 3. Declaring Independence from Judeo-Christianity
  • 4. Referrals: The Declaration's References to a Higher Power
  • 5. Christian Settlements: Colonizing the Continent, Not Building a Nation
  • Part II. United States v. The Bible
  • 6. Biblical Influence
  • 7. Christian Arrogance and the Golden Rule
  • 8. Biblical Obedience or American Freedom?
  • 9. Crime and Punishment: Biblical Vengeance or American Justice?
  • 10. Redemption and Original Sin or Personal Responsibility and the Presumption of Innocence
  • 11. The American Experiment: Religious Faith or Reason?
  • 12. A Monarchy and "the morrow" or a Republic and "our posterity"
  • Part III. The Ten Commandments v. The Constitution
  • 13. Which Ten?
  • 14. The Threat Display: The First Commandment
  • 15. Punishing the Innocent: The Second Commandment
  • 16. Suppressed Speech: The Third Commandment
  • 17. Forced Rest: The Fourth Commandment
  • 18. On Family Honor: The Fifth Commandment
  • 19. Unoriginal and Tribal: The Sixth, Eighth, and Ninth Commandments
  • 20. Perverting Sex and Love: The Seventh Commandment
  • 21. Misogyny, Slavery, Thoughtcrime, and Anti-Capitalism: The Tenth Commandment
  • 32. The Ten Commandments: A Religious, Not a Moral Code
  • Part IV. American Verbiage
  • 23. Argument by Idiom
  • 24. "In God We Trust": The Belligerent Motto
  • 25. "One nation under God": The Divisive Motto
  • 26. "God bless America": The Diversionary Motto
  • Conclusion: Take alarm, this is the first experiment on our Liberties
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Index
  • Picture Credits
Review by Booklist Review

Those who say the U.S. is a Christian nation aren't just talking up a myth about the Founders, constitutional lawyer Seidel says. They are talking anti-Americanism because the literal biblical religion of Christian nationalism preaches attitudes and actions sharply different from those enjoined by the Constitution. Seidel devotes parts II and III here to contrasting the Bible with the Constitution and arguing that, whereas the former licenses an ultimate monarchy, the latter sets up a republic, a public thing, made up of voters and representatives. The former observes one hierarchy after another, while the latter establishes political equality. Moreover, every one of the Ten Commandments runs counter to Constitutional law and the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness it strives to serve. The book's last section homes in on those cunning interpolations into an originally God-less national verbiage, namely In God we trust, One nation under God, God bless America, and the sneaky oath-capper, So help me God. Wonderfully eye-opening and thought-provoking, and as accessibly written as the subject allows.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Seidel, a constitutional attorney, provides a fervent takedown of Christian Nationalism in his furious debut. After support by far-right Christian nationalists helped Donald Trump win the U.S. presidency, Seidel worries that Evangelical political influence is increasing and dangerous. He argues that America was not founded as a Christian nation on Judeo-Christian principles, and thus Christian nationalists are inherently wrong. Judeo-Christian principles, he argues, are directly opposed to the Enlightenment principles on which the United States was founded: "to put it bluntly, Christianity is un-American." Seidel points out subtle but pervasive Christian theocratic arguments that aim to link patriotism with religion by looking at the history of the 1950s media blitz conducted by Christian organizations promoting religion in American life, the 1954 addition by Congress of "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance, and Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan's use of "God bless America" as a concluding remark for presidential addresses. According to Seidel, Christian nationalists see Christianity as the foundation of American exceptionalism; Seidel subverts this claim by arguing that democratic freedoms (such as freedom of religion and speech) are what make America exceptional. While many readers who don't agree with Seidel will dismiss his forceful tone, his well-conceived arguments will spark conversations for those willing to listen. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved